Paso Robles 5: Austin Hope Treana Tasting Cellars

Wayward Wine continues its exploration of Paso Robles wineries. One day starts in search of wine for a wedding. An up-scaled, wood-planked warehouse sits between biotech buildings and similar sheds. Inside, large indigo walls fly up two stories, splattered with animal heads and art.  Lipstick red metal chairs frame the reclaimed wood bar and tables.  House-sized curved wood panels mimic sliced barrels dividing the space.  This is not a winery, it is a tasting lounge for the hip. Welcome to Austin Hope’s Treana Tasting Cellars.

The Hope family came to Paso four generations ago. Austin got into wine at Cal Poly, under Chuck Wagner (Caymus), and after a stint in the Rhône Valley replanted the Hope family vineyards with Rhône grapes for the Treana and Austin Hope wines served here.

They start us with a 2012 Austin Hope Roussanne. The label looks painfully minimalistic. Grapes arrived hand-picked entirely from their family vineyard in Paso Robles.  This 100% Roussanne saw seven months on lees all in French barrels. The APPEARANCE looks a pale golden hay. AROMAS smell heavy of wax, apricot, eucalyptus, and salt. The PALATE is meaty, full, viscous with mild acidity. FLAVORS taste of golden raisin and apricot.  Austin Hope’s 2012 Paso Robles Roussanne is good (3 of 5), at $20 a value, pleasant, warm and soft but myopic, wanting more structure and complexity.

We try Treana’s 2013 white, which sticks to Hope’s Rhone grapes with an equal split of Viognier and Marsanne. Its label (like the Chard below) is stylish and wedding ready. The AROMAS and FLAVORS power on with apricot, gold raisin, and white flower. The PALATE feels sweet, ripe, and full but with brighter acidity than the Roussanne.  Overall, a respectable good (3 of 5) for $24: perfect wedding white.

Treana’s 2013 Chardonnay flaunts a similar, modish, sparkly label: a huge improvement on their older designs.

Treana Chardonnay 2013

This all Chard show from Central Coast fruit (so, South of Paso) lived 10% in new French oak barrels, allowing fruit to come to the fore. It feels soft, fat, and mellow with ripe, tropic pineapple and honey dew melon flavors of medium length. Another solid (3 of 5).

To Rhône reds.

Toublemaker Blend 8 mixes the kitchen sink with Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. It smells and tastes of compote, nutmeg, and candied cherries. It is sweet, plump, soft, and yet dusty and acrid on the finish. There is acidity, but it feels added. The whole thing feels torqued, forced, and masked with sweetness: acceptable (2 of 5).

Austin Hope’s 2012 Grenache, another Hope Vineyard wine, saw 10 months in mostly new French oak from all over (Boutes, Claude Gillet, d’Aauitane, Remond, Meyrieux and Vernou). Only one racking kept it concentrated.

Austin Hope Grenache 2012

Pleasantly surprisingly, the APPEARANCE looks a clear, mild but bright ruby. AROMAS smell moderately of dried violets, potpourri, cherry skin, and light pepper. It is dry, big, and viscous, with ample alcoholic heat, but enough acidity. FLAVORS burn with vodka, dried cherry skins and dried florals again that last a medium length. At $42, Hope’s Grenache is very good (4 of 5), showing interesting restraint, enough so that we buy one.

Austin Hope’s all estate, all Syrah shows a deep, purple heart. Its aromas and flavors blast on about black cherry, dark raisin, and light tobacco. Its dryness, low acid, medium tannins, higher alcohol, and bigger body make for a hot, edgy, mini monster. With a longer length but oodles of imbalance, their Syrah is good (3 of 5) when in the mood.

Next, Treana’s 2013 Red. A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah sourced from Paso. Give it one thing, the screen-printed gilding is sexy.

Treana REd 2013

What we have here is purple ink. AROMAS pound the pavement with gum, cassis, jam, raisin, tobacco, and smoke. The PALATE feels tannic, big and chewy, dry and dusty. FLAVORS taste way too young, with cherry pit, cherry skin, cherry jam and cocoa. Treana’s red is very good (4 of 5), $45, but too young.

Luckily, Treana’s 2011 Red tastes readier (and looks retro, if you missed the nineties).

Treana Red 2011

This 62% Cab 38% Syrah mash up smells similar to 2013, but more open, spiced, with caramel and toffee aromas. Tannins have softened. Flavors still carry dark fruits, but dried petals have snuck in. It feels agreeable, mellow, lighter and very good (4 of 5) but should be drunk now.

Like Treana’s tasting room, Hope’s wines show an easy, clean, modern style that comes off mildly eclectic, if safe.  I think I obsessed over labels and room design because, as with the wines, the Treana and Hope ranges are finding a unity of style, purpose, and quality. That will come with time.  Austin Hope can make very good stuff. It is meant to please not challenge you.


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